Tag Archives: Global Homophobia

It Is Now Illegal To Be A Lesbian Or Bi Woman In 44 Countries Around The World (And That Number Is Growing)

44 countries have criminalised sex between consenting adult women, and of these at least ten countries (which have previously only criminalised male relationships) have recently expanded their laws to include women.

Many of the laws were first instigated under British colonial rule and others are based on Sharia law.

The Trust warns that while many countries have historically only criminalised male homosexuality due to the legacy of British colonial penal codes, increased international criticism of the laws is having the counter-intuitive effect of laws being expanded to include women as states believe the legal basis is strengthened if they are gender neutral and therefore more ‘equal’.

Ironically, such amendments [to criminalise women] are often made on the inaccurate premise of ensuring non-discrimination in the State’s treatment of male and female homosexuals.

A Botswana court found that a gross indecency law that only applied to male homosexuals, and not female homosexuals, was discriminatory, but that the discrimination was rectified when the provision was made gender-neutral.

Similarly, a court in Solomon Islands found that the male gross indecency law was discriminatory since women were not criminalised, but found that this would be rectified by removing the word ‘male’.”

The report warns that while reports on LGBT criminalisation can often focus on gay and bisexual men, women experience criminalisation in specific and particularly damaging ways.

Countries where lesbian and bisexual women are criminalised
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Corrective rape is found to be common as a way of ‘curing’ women of same-sex attraction and forced marriages with men are also a continuing threat.

As social and economic structures are already designed to require women to be dependent on men, women can experience particular stigma and practical issues if seeking to live independently outside of a ‘traditional’ relationship or with another woman.


Another concern highlighted in the report is how restrictions on women’s movement in socially conservative countries can often mean it is forbidden for women to travel without a man, making it difficult for women to meet in private.

Women in general are disadvantaged economically in many societies, for example by inequality in family structures, labour markets and laws on property and inheritance, which in turn compound the human rights violations faced by lesbians and bisexual women as they are less able to live independently without male family members.

Women [pressured into sham ‘heterosexual’ marriages] are likely to have significantly less control over their own bodies than gay men who enter sham heterosexual marriages, and may have little control over their sexual and reproductive health choices.”


Photographer Chronicles the Struggles of LGBT People Around the World

We are told the world is a safer and more welcoming place for those of us in the LGBTQ community, than it was ten years ago.

But there is still a growing number of national and regional governments have passed laws legalising gay marriage and unions between people of the same sex.

Other countries have tightened legislation that prohibits anti-gay discrimination and hate speech targeted at people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT).

Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch wrote earlier this year.

There’s been enormous progress globally and locally. It’s important to note that the fight for LGBT rights is not a Western phenomenon; many of the governments at the forefront of the defence of LGBT rights are from the developing world.”

But while LGBT rights may be generally improving around the world, many more people live in countries where homosexual acts or identifying as gay can lead to state-ordered physical punishment.

Human rights groups say that in some of these countries — including Russia, Nigeria and Uganda — governments have targeted LGBT people as a way to redirect peoples’ anger from the governments to a vulnerable minority. All three countries have introduced anti-gay legislation in the past three years and in all three countries human rights groups have reported simultaneous increases in attacks on LGBT people.

Photographer Robin Hammond, who is from New Zealand, first started documenting these issues when he was on assignment in Lagos, Nigeria, and read about five people who had been arrested for being gay. He then decided to expand his work to seven countries, photographing LGBT people of 15 different nationalities.

Hammond says he wants to improve peoples’ lives rather than simply chronicling their suffering and is today launching a non-governmental organization named Witness Change, which aims to kickstart social media campaigns and put on traveling exhibitions to help raise funds for grassroots organizations that are dealing with the highlighted human rights issues, including LGBT rights.

He described the process he has developed for taking his portraits — and for asking his subjects to write down their personal stories:

Australian MP Gives Powerful Speech On The Importance Of Same-Sex Marriage

Penny Wong – who is seen as Australia’s most high profile LGBT politician, after coming out post-election in 2001 – received a 30-second standing ovation before delivering an emotional speech on same-sex marriage at the Labor Party national conference.

Ms Wong who is also the current Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, was visibly moved by the strong show of support, wiping away tears before thanking her colleagues.

In a touching speech, the Senator shared some of her proudest moments during her time in the Labor party.

Many of us were here in 2011 when this party voted to put a commitment in our platform for marriage equality. I don’t think I’ve had a prouder day as a member of the Labor Party and I will be prouder still when we deliver marriage equality in law.”

Penny Wong

Wong continued.

There is nothing to fear from equality… Progress is never easily won. Reform is never easily won. LGBTI Australians deserve equal treatment before the law. The aspiration for equality is remarkably persistent. We will continue until we win.”

Her impassioned address was delivered on the same day Labor leader Bill Shorten promised to legalise same-sex marriage within 100 days if he is elected prime minister in 2016.

The Labor Party leader has also confirmed its MPs will be given a free vote on upcoming same-sex marriage legislation – and will not be forced to vote in favour.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott is a staunch opponent of equal marriage, but is facing pressure to allow his MPs a free vote on a cross-party marriage bill, following progress in Ireland and the United States.


LGBT Travellers Remain Cautious Following UK’s Same-Sex Marriage Laws

Back in 2013, England and Wales ushered in brand new legislation that finally made same-sex marriage legal across the two countries. By March, 2014 the first same-sex marriages were taking place and same-sex couples who had previously gotten civil partnerships were able to upgrade to ‘married’ status, being able to call each other husband or wife and have it validated, legally.

In January, Prime Minister David Cameron even called marriage equality one of the biggest achievements of his time in office and he mentioned that he’d received many wedding invitations and thank you letters from same-sex couples. But has marriage equality really helped people be treated better? Or is it just a plaster on a more concerning problem?

UK LGBT charity Stonewall recently warned LGBT voters on ‘complacency’ in parliament, saying that more things need to be done until LGBT people stop being discriminated against. And in a new survey from gay-friendly accommodation website Further Afield supports that argument, with many gay and lesbian travellers across the UK still being cautious about travelling in England and Wales, despite the monumental marriage decision.

Also read: What’s the Worst City in the World?

In the snap survey conducted by the site, over 90% of its gay and lesbian respondents said that they would not feel comfortable kissing or even cuddling in England and Wales. Further Afield says that much still needs to be done to change social attitudes and make LGBT people feel welcome in England and Wales.

Further Afield also says that the actions need to go beyond basic training. Training can help staff at hotels and B&Bs avoid incorrect language and offensive questions but an inclusive environment is also down to “the ethos of the people who own, run and manage the hotel” and that instead of “box-ticking with an eye on the pink pound” these owners need to be “genuinely mindful of their guests’ possible concerns on arrival”.

This is an important concern for the government as although they made a great decision in legalising same-sex marriage, this will have been for nothing if people don’t actually feel comfortable celebrating and honeymooning in England and Wales. Not only do the countries not want to be seen as not welcoming but the economic ramifications of same-sex couples avoiding them when it comes to choosing a honeymoon destination could also be quite serious.

Love her, Love this – Dolly Parton Calls Out Christians for ‘Judging’ the LGBT Community

In a recent interview and photo shoot with Billboard, Dolly Parton was asked about her Tennessee-based Dollywood amusement park and its appeal to churches and the LGBT community:

“It’s a place for entertainment, a place for all families, period. It’s for all that. But as far as the Christians, if people want to pass judgment, they’re already sinning. The sin of judging is just as bad as any other sin they might say somebody else is committing. I try to love everybody.”

Dolly Parton

She also talks about her gay following and why she thinks she’s become such an idol in the community’s eyes.

“They know that I completely love and accept them, as I do all people. I’ve struggled enough in my life to be appreciated and understood. I’ve had to go against all kinds of people through the years just to be myself. I think everybody should be allowed to be who they are, and to love who they love. I don’t think we should be judgmental. Lord, I’ve got enough problems of my own to pass judgment on somebody else. ”

Dolly Parton

Homophobic Remarks During Political Debate Cause Out-cry in Brazil

A minor character in Brazil’s election faced a firestorm of criticism from activists on Monday after saying during a presidential debate that the country needs to stand up against gay people who should receive psychological help far away from the general population.

The comments by presidential candidate Levy Fidelix, who has the support of less than 1 percent of potential voters, drew no reaction from the leading candidates during the nationally televised debate late Sunday. But online and on social media tens of thousands of people denounced Fidelix as homophobic and hateful.

Gay rights activists urged people to file complaints against Fidelix and asked that TV stations remove him from the final presidential debate on Thursday.

Fidelix, a former journalist who founded the center-right Brazilian Labor Renewal Party, gets equal airtime in presidential debates as President Dilma Rousseff, her main opponent Marina Silva and four other presidential hopefuls.

During the debate, candidate Luciana Genro asked Fidelix why some politicians refused to accept same-sex couples as families.

He responded with…

“Those people who have those problems should receive psychological help. And very far away from us, because here it is not acceptable.”

Levy Fidelix

Some members of the audience laughed at the remarks, but social media exploded with comments accusing him of homophobia.

Congressman Jean Wyllys, known for defending rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, said on Monday that he is seeking legal advice to see whether the candidate can be sued for incitement to violence against gays.

Wyllys called Fidelix’s comments during the debate hate speech. It was “motivated by a nauseating mix of stupidity, homophobia and vulgar demagoguery,” he wrote on his Facebook page.

On Twitter and Facebook, people said “Levy, you are disgusting,” and tens of thousands were furious at his comments. Many said it was a perfect reason to approve a law that would punish discrimination against the LGBT.

Advocates have been calling for a law that would ban discrimination against the LGBT community, saying it would reduce violence against its members.

Silva has already faced complaints by gay rights activists. In August, she retracted proposals to change the constitution to allow gay marriage and to support a law that would criminalize sex-based discrimination.

A day after launching her government plan in which the proposals were revealed, Silva said there was a mistake in the publication process and clarified that she believed the same-sex unions allowed in Brazil already ensure all rights to same-sex couples.

Jamaican Parliament Set to Review the Country’s Sexual Offences Act

Jamaican Parliament is set to review the country’s Sexual Offences Act. The Jamaican criminal code currently prohibits sex between men through the colonial era buggery law, but the 2009 introduction of the Sexual Offences Act further criminalised same-sex relations.

Earlier this month, Labour MP Diane Abbott, the chair of the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on Jamaica, reiterated calls for the country to move away from its anti-gay stance.

Jamaican LGBT rights lawyer Maurice Tomlinson has sent an open letter to all members of the country’s Parliament urging for reform.

It reads…

“The law does not prevent HIV: The Sexual Offences Act of 2009 preserves the ban on private consensual adult male same-gender intimacy found in the 1864 Offences Against the Person Act (the anti-sodomy law). However, despite the continued existence of this colonially imposed law, Jamaica has the highest HIV prevalence rate among men who have sex with men (MSM) in the Western Hemisphere (33%). Hence, the law violates the right to privacy of consenting adults, with no societal benefit.”

Maurice Tomlinson

Mr Tomlinson said the legislation is “unfair to women” and “hurts women”

“Law preserves the 1864 Offences Against the Person Act, which provides for a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for anal rape and life imprisonment for vaginal rape. Hence, if a man raped a woman anally he would get significantly less time than if he raped her vaginally. This is patently unjust.”

Maurice Tomlinson

Mr Tomlinson accused Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller of a “blatant betrayal” for refusing to abolish Jamaica’s buggery law.

As part of her election campaign in 2011 Mrs Simpson-Miller vowed to review the legislation. However, since then, the issue has remained unresolved.

Young and Gay: Jamaica’s Gully Queens


India’s LGBT Community Rejoices at Health Minister’s Comments

Homophobia is not an inherently held opinion; it’s learnt, bred and taught to people before they’ve wised up enough to know better or because there simply aren’t any forces to tell them otherwise.

Often, homophobia – or a general dismay for anything queer – is institutionalised and sanctioned, particularly by stifling, human rights defying laws. That’s especially the case in countries subject to colonialism in the past centuries as although the many European colonies upped and left long ago and gave (most) countries their independence back, they left behind homophobia and anti-gay laws. India is one such country but after recent comments by the country’s health minister their may just be hope for India’s LGBT community yet.

Speaking recently, India’s Health Minister Harsh Vardhan told reporters that “everybody has human rights. It is the job of the government to protect them,” when asked about his personal views on gay rights and whether or not gay sex should continue to be criminalised.

In India, Section 377 of IPC (which criminalises homosexuality) was almost repealed in 2009 but this has since been upheld and will be subject to petition, so understand, Vardhan’s comment have made serious waves. He joins fellow BJP party member Ram Madhav (the general secretary for the party) who recently stated that although he didn’t advocated for consensual gay sex, it’s up for debate about whether it should be criminalised.

This is particularly hopeful for those hoping that Section 377 will be overturned once and for all but LGBT activists in the country will have somewhat of an uphill battle on their hands as BJP’s official stance is that they support Section 377 and think that it should remain in place. BJP’s party opinion is divided though, despite their official word so with the anti-gay epithet clearly losing some of its bite, this is a human rights campaign to watch.

Every Homophobic Parent Should Watch This

A team of LGBT YouTubers have clubbed together to make this reaction video in response to the shocking video Daniel Pierce posted last week on Youtube, which shows him being confronted by his “Christian” family, which was posted to YouTube last week.

“Hey guys! So here is us and a bunch of our fellow YouTuber friends reacting to a family not accepting there gay son as he comes out to them!

We wish we could show you everyones reaction video individually because they were so amazing and we would also like to say a big thank you guys for being apart of our video! your opinions mean a lot to us and everyone out there”



The original video, filmed by Pierce, captures the moment his father, grandparents, step-mother and his father’s sister accused him of “making a choice” and choosing his sexuality. He said his family staged what he described as a “pray the gay away” intervention after he first revealed his sexuality to his stepmother in October. In the five minute clip, the 19-year-old from Georgia can be heard explaining he has not chosen his sexuality, to which a woman responds: “No, you can deny it all you want to but I believe in the word of God, and God creates nobody that way. It’s a path that you have chosen to choose.”


Mr Pierce published the video has amassed over three million hits, and his partner opened a gofundme page asking for donations to cover his basic living costs. The fund raised ver $90,000.



Dark Side of Cuban LGBT History

The future of Cuba has often been on people’s minds and thoughts; a lot of people have high hopes for it and others just dismiss it. Just like any other country, Cuba has a big population of LGBT people. In Cuba and around the world, the LGBT community is not really a minority, but often the numbers lie and unfortunately many are still in the closet.

Cuba still scores ridiculously low when it comes to basic human rights. LGBT people have always been targeted and still are to this day. Even if there is a positive gradual shift, Cuba still has a long way to go, just like the rest of the world.

The country had a few openly LGBT bars in Pre-Revolutionary Cuba, but soon that was to change. In the 1930s, a new law came to power: the Public Ostentation Law. This law heavily encouraged the discrimination of queer people and was only repealed in 1988!

Cuba’s revolution raised a lot of hope for many people and especially for LGBT people, who helped the revolution to take place. Unfortunately Castro wasn’t any kinder than the previous rulers of Cuba. Homosexuality was widely regarded as a product of capitalism, which should be entirely rooted out of a communist society.

The country used different methods to get rid of homosexuals, because in their eyes the ideal “New Man” was a strong and surely heterosexual male. UMAPs (Military Units to Aid Production) were soon introduced. These were labor camps designed to turn men into heterosexuals.

Castro later apologized for the mistreatment in the camps, but the government still tried to keep enforcing the Public Ostentation Law. The government decided that in order to rebuild the country, they had to get rid of “unwanted” people such as homosexuals, disabled people and criminals. If you were deemed undesireable by society, you were given a span of two months to leave Cuba. This was known as the Mariel Boat lift.

This was the darkest period of LGBT persecution in Cuba, but there is still more to the story.

Christina Fonthes, a LGBT Activist, Escapes After Being Held by her Mother who Wanted to ‘Fix’ her Sexuality

Christina Fonthes, a lesbian activist, was flown home to safety after being held captive by her mother in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who wanted to “fix” her sexuality.

When Fonthes was visiting her family in Kinshasa on 11 August, they stole her passport in order to keep her in the country and “cure her of her gayness”.

She initially managed to get to the British embassy in the city to apply for emergency travel documents, but was unable to stay in the building. Fonthes then travelled to a friend’s house to hide from her family but was reportedly seized by police on the way and taken back to her relatives.

Friends said she was in “massive danger” and suggested the arrest by police was planned by her family.

In a plea for help, Fonthes tweeted on Thursday: “Im NOT missing. My passport has been stolen BY MUM. and I need to return to the uk asap.”

Her partner, the BBC sports presenter Jessica Creighton, told the Independent last week. “It became apparent that her family were unhappy with her decision to be an out lesbian. They took her passport and [were] refusing to give it back. They have said they want to keep her in Congo and ‘cure her of her gayness’… Chris is a British citizen and should be under the protection of the British government. So far, their so-called protection has been utterly useless,” Fonthes, who co-founded the Rainbow Noir LGBT group in Manchester, has lived in the UK for most of her life and is a British citizen. Rainbow Noir thanked well wishers on Facebook on Sunday, saying that Fonthes had managed to return to the UK.

Creighton confirmed her partner was safe, tweeting:

Judges Blast Indiana and Wisconsin Marriage Bans

Federal appeals judges bristled on Tuesday at arguments defending gay marriage bans in Indiana and Wisconsin, with one Republican appointee comparing them to now-defunct laws that once outlawed weddings between blacks and whites.

As the legal skirmish in the United States over same-sex marriage shifted to the three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, more than 200 people lined up hours before to ensure they got a seat at the much-anticipated hearing.

While judges often play devil’s advocate during oral arguments, the panel’s often-blistering questions for the defenders of the same-sex marriage bans could be a signal the laws may be in trouble – at least at this step in the legal process.

Richard Posner, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1981, hit the backers of the ban the hardest. He balked when Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General Timothy Samuelson repeatedly pointed to “tradition” as the underlying justification for barring gay marriage.

“It was tradition to not allow blacks and whites to marry – a tradition that got swept away,” the 75-year-old judge said. Prohibition of same sex marriage, Posner said, derives from “a tradition of hate … and savage discrimination” of homosexuals.

Attorneys general in both states asked the appellate court to permanently restore the bans, which were ruled unconstitutional in June. Its ruling could affect hundreds of couples who married after lower courts tossed the bans and before those rulings were stayed pending the Chicago appeal.

Gay marriage is legal in 19 states as well as the District of Columbia, and advocates have won more than 20 court victories around the country since the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the federal government to recognize state-sanctioned gay marriages last year.

The Supreme Court has yet to take up a case, but Utah and Oklahoma’s cases were appealed to the high court and Virginia’s attorney general also has asked the justices to weigh in. Appeals court rulings are pending for Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee, while appellate court hearings are scheduled next month for Hawaii, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada and is expected soon in Texas.

Posner, who has a reputation for making lawyers before him squirm, cut off Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher, just moments into his presentation and frequently chided him to answer his questions.

At one point, Posner ran through a list of psychological strains the children of unmarried same-sex couples suffered, including having to struggle to grasp why their schoolmates’ parents were married and theirs weren’t.

“What horrible stuff,” Posner said. What benefit to society in barring gay marriage, he asked, outweighs that kind of harm to children?

“All this is a reflection of biology,” Fisher answered. “Men and women make babies, same-sex couples do not… we have to have a mechanism to regulate that, and marriage is that mechanism.”

Samuelson echoed that, telling the hearing that regulating marriage – including by encouraging men and women to marry – was part of a concerted Wisconsin policy to reduce numbers of children born out of wedlock.

“I assume you know how that has been working out in practice?” Judge David Hamilton responded, citing figures that births to single women from 1990 to 2009 rose 53 percent in Wisconsin and 68 percent in Indiana.

While the judges seemed to push defenders of the bans the hardest, they also pressed the side arguing for gay marriage to say just where they themselves would draw the line about who could and couldn’t marry.

Would they argue in favor of polygamy on similar grounds, by pointing to the emotional toll on children in families with multiple mothers or fathers, asked Judge David Hamilton, a President Barack Obama appointee.

“If you have two people, it’s going to look like a marriage,” said Kenneth Falk of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana. “If you have three or four, it doesn’t. … There’s no slippery slope.”

Among those following the arguments in court was plaintiff Ruth Morrison, a retired Indianapolis Fire Department battalion chief. She said that because Indiana won’t recognize the woman she married in another state as her wife, she wouldn’t be able to pass on pension and other benefits if she dies.

“Now Indiana tells us our promises are only good if our spouses are of the opposite sex,” Morrison, wearing a fire department uniform, said during a rally ahead of the hearing Monday night.

A voter-approved constitutional amendment bans gay marriage in Wisconsin. State law prohibits it in Indiana. Neither state recognizes same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. The lawsuits that led to Tuesday’s hearing in Chicago contend that the bans violate the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection guarantee.

Despite the seriousness of the hearing, there was some levity.

At one point, a visibly uncomfortable Samuelson struggled to offer a specific reason for how gay marriage bans benefit society. He then noted a yellow courtroom light was on signaling his allotted time was nearly up.

“It won’t save you,” Judge Ann Claire Williams, a Bill Clinton appointee, told him, prompting laughter in court.

Samuleson smiled, and said: “It was worth a try.”

Stonewall’s International Campaign

It’s taken us 25 years to get to where we are today in the UK. We’re serious about creating change around the world. Will you help us?

Stonewall’s International work supports the work of LGBT human rights defenders around the word. We know from our own experience that sustainable change is only possible if it is led by people on the ground in the country concerned.

Why its important to support LGBT rights around the world

  • 78 countries make same-sex relationships a crime
  • 5 of those impose the death penalty
  • 1,509 cases of murdered trans people have been reported since 2008
  • 61 countries protect LGB people from discrimination in employment
  • 14 countries have equal marriage
  • 15 countries allow same-sex couples to adopt children

Shubha discusses the situation for LGBT people in India and what she has learned from her visit to Stonewall

Show your support

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WATCH: A Secret, Illegal Gay Wedding in Uganda

In February 2014, President Museveni of Uganda signed into law one of the harshest anti-gay bills in the world. As of August 2014 the “kill the gays” bill, as it was often called in the media, is no longer valid.

The bill was overturned based on a simple technicality; there were not enough members of parliament present when the bill was passed. President Museveni has recently expressed a desire to reinstate a milder version of the controversial bill.

While the draconian nature of the original bill alienated many of the western countries that Uganda relies on for foreign aid and trade, the overturning of the original bill was not based on a shift in the government’s beliefs. Regardless, many gay rights activists in Uganda are celebrating this as a step in the right direction.

Earlier this year, while the anti gay law was still in place, Vocativ attended a secret gay wedding ceremony in Uganda. If the local police force had found out about the ceremony, everyone present, including our crew, could have potentially faced jail time. Although the marriage we attended isn’t legally recognized, the couple said that it was an important symbolic ritual for them to take part in.

A Secret, Illegal Gay Wedding in Uganda

Ugandan LGBTs Who Fled to Kenya Still Feel in Danger

When a Ugandan court overturned the country’s Anti-Homosexuality Act this month, rights activists worldwide claimed a victory. But not gay Ugandans who fled persecution to live in a refugee camp in neighboring Kenya.

“The reaction shocked me. I went there. I thought it would be a celebration, but … nothing. They knew at an international level and at the diplomatic level, the decision is going to have impact, but at the local level, it won’t really. You can overrule the law, but you can’t overrule the mind.”

Brizan Ogollan

Of the 155,000 refugees at Kakuma camp, 35 are registered with the U.N. refugee agency as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Ugandans who fled because of the country’s Anti-Homosexuality Act, which became law in February.

The now-overturned law called for life jail sentences for those convicted of gay sex and criminalized vague offenses like “attempted homosexuality” and “promoting homosexuality” in a country where being gay has long been illegal.

Since the law was first proposed in 2009, public opinion in Uganda has grown increasingly anti-gay, said Geoffrey Ogwaro, a coordinator for the Civil Society Coalition for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, which is based in Uganda’s capital, Kampala. Many gay Ugandans have lived in constant fear of arrest. Some were imprisoned. Landlords evicted tenants. One man tried to run over his gay son with a car, Ogwaro said.

“Unfortunately, the law’s nullification has actually polarized society more,”

Geoffrey Ogwaro

Members of parliament have started petitions to resurrect the legislation, although President Yoweri Museveni is reported to have requested the parliamentarians to reconsider.

Three years ago, when a 26-year-old gay Ugandan man was caught with another man, his stepfather threatened to report him to authorities and he fled to Nairobi. “I thought, `No one loves you in your family,'” said the man, who insisted on anonymity because of fears for his safety.

With little money in his pocket, he could not afford to stay in the Kenyan capital. He registered with the U.N.’s refugee agency, and for three years he has waited in Kakuma camp for refugee status, which would make him eligible for resettlement in a new country.

The man does not want to stay in Kenya, where same-sex conduct is also illegal, and where a bill recently introduced in parliament proposes that foreign gays be stoned to death. He continued to face harassment in Kakuma but at least he got support from fellow gay Ugandans, he said.

“For the first time, I met these people who were just like me. You think to yourself, `OK, I’m not alone.’ At least I felt there was someone who understood me.”

But last month he left for Nairobi because he thought the camp had grown too hostile. A Ugandan refugee was hospitalized in June after another refugee hurled stones and slurs at him, said Anthony Oluoch, executive director of the Gay Kenya Trust.

Recognizing the risks for LGBT refugees, the U.N. refugee agency said it is prioritizing their cases for resettlement.

The 26-year-old gay Ugandan has been trying to find work, but few employers in Nairobi are willing to hire a refugee. Two of his seven roommates have turned to prostitution. The house keeps a special fund for bribing police officers if they are arrested, he said.

Kenyan police could legally send him back to Kakuma. Some police officers have even deported asylum seekers back to Uganda against their will, said Neela Ghoshal, an LGBT rights researcher for Human Rights Watch.

“There’s no place in Kenya where I really think they can live freely and safely. They’re basically set up for a lot of bad options in life.”

Neela Ghoshal

Uganda’s Constitutional Court Could Strike Down the Anti-Homosexuality Act Today

Many LGBT rights supporters inside the Ugandan Constitutional Court this week say there are strong signs that the justices will strike down the Anti-Homosexuality Act when the court reconvenes.

For two days, the Uganda’s Constitutional Court has heard submissions from LGBTI rights activists in order to repeal the anti-gay legislation. In this ruling, the court will judge on whether parliament broke the rules.

That may sound surprising, since the Ugandan political system has seemed stacked against LGBT people since legislation imposing up to a lifetime prison sentence for homosexuality was enacted in a surprise vote on December 20, 2013.

However, the court has pushed forward with hearing the case over the government’s objections during the first day of hearings, which has left LGBT rights supporters feeling confident.

“I am very optimistic that they will strike it down. In my opinion having been in court for the past two days, I think the judges are being very independent.”

Frank Mugisha of Sexual Minorities Uganda

Nicholas Opiyo, one of the attorneys for the group of ten human rights activists, also felt very heartened after the first day of hearings concluded on Wednesday, tweeting…

“The constitutional court adjourns to tomorrow further hearing of the AHA petition in Ug. We believe that the court will find in our favour”

Nicholas Opiyo@nickopiyo

The petitioners also believe by regulating the behaviour of gay and lesbian Ugandans while not regulating the behaviour of heterosexuals, the Act violates article 21 of the constitution. Article 21 ‘guarantees’ equality and freedom of discrimination. Section 13 of the Act, which bans persons ‘promoting’ homosexuality, is also said to violate freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and freedom of association.

The Ugandan government is defending the law as constitutional by referring to Article 91, which says parliament has the power to legislate and to create laws for the betterment of society. Under the law, homosexuality is punished with life in prison.

Malawi Catholic Conference Addresses the ‘Challenge’ Homosexuality

Bring up the topic of gay rights in conversation and if you’ve got a good sampling of the population listening in, the garnered responses will be mostly positive and in favour of them with a few ignorant people grumbling to themselves in the corner at best. But as with anything, you’ll also get the extreme outliers who are vehemently against equality like equality insulted their mother, robbed the food out of their mouths and TP’d their house for good measure too.

Consider then, the attitudes of many African nations who still hold on to sodomy laws left like a bitter aftertaste from the Colonial Era along with anti-gay opinions from people who haven’t been influenced by high profile LGBT shows such as Glee or The L Word. We can blame the TV networks and the language barrier all we want but the fact is, the anti-LGBT epithet in these countries is stifling (and often incredibly life threatening) to LGBT folks (or those thought to be LGBT – ignorant people are surprisingly lackadaisical about the facts would you believe) which is why it’s great news that the Malawi Catholic conference has chosen to address it at a recent meeting.

Inside Africa or not, the general consensus is that same-gender marriages are not supported by the Catholic Church and up until Pope Francis (the current Pope) got his place at the top of the Catholic food chain, we’d be lucky to hear so much as a kind word sent in the LGBT community’s direction. This is something that has been a struggle for both Catholic leadership and their followers across the world as the changing pace of opinion and the Catholic church’s inability (or unwillingness) to change means that many are leaving the church.

Father Andrew Kaufa, a member of the Association of Member Episcopal Conference in Eastern Africa (AMECEA) said as much in a recent statement about the conference,

“The church has observed that there are a number of challenges that many families from different African countries are facing which is affecting the preaching of the gospel. Many rich countries are imposing strange cultures in poor nations, an issue that calls for discussion and intervention. As we try to search for solutions in regard to family matters, the Bishops will also pay attention to the issue of same sex which is at the helm.”

His words are correct; countries such as the United States and England should not expect countries in Africa (or anywhere else) to fall in line with their social values just because they said so, especially when these rich countries have had the benefits of mass media and million dollar social projects to get these viewpoints where they are today (and keep in mind, even the support for same gender marriage sits at just 50-60% in the US). That doesn’t mean that countries like Malawi can’t take some solid cues though as their law that same sex sexual activity is punishable by up to 14 years in jail isn’t really helping anyone.

The country did recently say that it would stop arresting people for having same sex sexual relations and would review this law so at least one socially conservative country is doing its bit to become a little bit more progressive.


Young and Gay: Jamaica’s Gully Queens

Watch the unofficial video for “Beautiful Girl” by Vybz Kartel, the “voice of the Jamaican ghetto” at Noisey.

In Jamaica, attacks, murder, and rape are common occurrences against LGBTI people, with little to no retribution or justice brought against those responsible. After being forced from shacks, derelict buildings, and their own families, many homeless LGBTI Jamaicans have found refuge in the storm drainage systems of Kingston — known locally as the gully.

For trans girls and gay men unable or unwilling to hide their sexuality, the sense of community and relative safety the gully provides acts as a welcome sanctuary, and for many, a hope of change to come.

VICE News travelled to the New Kingston area to see what LGBTI life is like in Jamaica — where just being who you are can mean living a life underground.

Watch this powerful report from Vice

Meet Mexico’s Anti-homophobic Bishop

Bishop Raul Vera of Mexico has gotten attention this week for an interview with El País in which he harshly critiqued homophobia and intolerance as begin anti-catholic and ‘sick’.

Vera is a strong and active advocate of outreach to the LGBT community as well as other maligned groups in society such as immigrants, missing persons, indigenous people, prostitutes, drug addicts, and all outcasts, but this position has created problems. He is criticized by conservatives and catholics in Mexico, and has also made an enemy of the narco-cartels whose victims he helps.

In the interview he covers topics including homophobia, abortion, and drugs. He was asked what his opinions were regrading homosexuality since he baptized the daughter of a lesbian couple this year. Homosexuality, he says,

“…is a topic that we have refused to address. The people who say homosexuals are sick are sick themselves. I have a friend who is a priest and he is gay. The Church needs to come to them not with condemnation, but with dialogue. We cannot cancel out a person’s richness just because of his or her sexual preference. That is sick, that is heartless, that is lacking common sense.”

Bishop Raul Vera of Mexico

While still supporting the Church’s stance against homosexual behavior and marriage, the Bishop has nonetheless been an outspoken opponent of homophobia, although he has been ignored and disparaged for his stance in Mexico’s public sphere.

The ascension of Pope Francis, despite bringing no substantive changes to Church policy in the area, has reaffirmed a tone of compassion and a willingness to approach controversial progressive topics including the role of LGBT people and women in the Catholic community. As a result, Vera has received more of a platform since.

Last year, Vera responded to Pope Francis’s famous claim regarding homosexuality – ‘Who am I to judge?’

In a short video, he says that homophobia is a ‘mental illness’.

“They’re human beings deserving of respect. I am certain that [God] knows because, in reality, it’s many members of the Church who don’t want to recognize the scientific reality on the issue of homosexuality.”

Bishop Raul Vera of Mexico

Francis was himself a leading figure in Latin America as Cardinal Bergoglio, where he served as the head of the Argentine Conference of Bishops, and had an a confrontational but pragmatic and startlingly liberal approach to gay issues. During that time in his home-country Argentina, Bergolgio pushed for the Conference to endorse same-sex civil unions. This was meant to be an alternative to the same-sex marriage being considered at the time, which Bergolgio still condemmed.

Mexico today has limited marriage equality in certain regions of the country, such as capital Mexico City, and regional court challenges throughout the states.

Another Day, Another Controversial Joan Rivers Quote

Another day, another controversial Joan Rivers quote. It seems that the incendiary comedian is at it again (when she’s not tearing down people’s outfits or appearances on E!’s Fashion police) as she’s now turned her attention from the Hollywood, red carpet attending populous to the President and the First Lady of the United States.

According to Rivers, President Obama is gay, with her words fired off to a journalist who asked her if we’d ever see a gay or lesbian president. “We already have it with Obama” was her response (which was subsequently captured on video below).

Although despite her suggesting that he’s unfortunately closeted and is in no way to be open or proud about his sexuality, it did seem to be more of a pointed barb in the Pres’ direction. She was invalidating his sexuality as a (seemingly) straight man in a (seemingly) happy marriage with Michelle Obama. A woman who, Rivers says, is transgender. “You know Michelle is a tr*nny. A transgender. We all know” Rivers continued, firing off the incredibly offensive transgender slur like it was anything but.

This isn’t the first time Rivers has landed herself in hot water either as last year TMZ asked her about MSNBC’s firing of Alec Baldwin (prior to his homophobic rant) and she chose to defend him, hurling a string of racist and homophobic slurs in succession, covering Chinese people, gay people, black people and plenty other identities too for good, offensive measure.

This is even despite the fact that she has actually been outspoken in support of the LGBT community, with the comedian even attending a gay marriage earlier in the week. Interestingly enough though, both MSNBC and E! (the network which Fashion Police airs on) are owned by the same parent company so whether the backlash of Rivers’ recent statements see her fired too will have to be seen.

As Putin Leaves Argentina, Gay Russians Marry in Buenos Aires

Marina Mironova and Oxana Tomofeeva had been raising their son Nikolai for over a decade in Russia as the policy trend has advanced further against gays.

When authorities eventually threatened to seize Nikolai because of their relationship, the two women left for a better life in Argentina. Now pursuing asylum with the government in Buenos Aires, they finally married last Wednesday as Argentina celebrated the fourth anniversary of its nation-wide legalization of same-sex marriage.

This follows a similar story of a gay couple wedding in February of this year who also sought asylum from Russia, reports the Buenos Aires Herald.

Argentina legalized same-sex marriage for foreigners in 2012, two years after President Christina Fernández Kirchner signed equal marriage for citizens into law. Repression in Russia has amplified since 2013 inaugurated the infamous propaganda law which banned most public activism for LGBT rights.

The anniversary of the 2010 victory has been much celebrated but there is still social backlash against gay peoples and same-sex marriage. Despite this, La Nacion reports over 7,500 gay couples have been married in Argentina since the passage of the law.

This has been in large part due to the efforts of activist groups in Argentina, including the Argentine Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, and Trans (FALGBT) who was present to celebrate the union of Mironova and Tomofeeva. Claudia Castrosín, vicepresident of the FALGBT said of the marriage

“With much joy and pride we will accompany Marina and Oxana in their marriage. They have escaped the laws that criminalize sexual diversity in Russia for our country’s guarantees of legal equality and the right to be.”

The anniversary comes days after Russian President Vladamir Putin met with President de Kirchner in Buenos Aires. There was protesting in the capital by supporters of Ukrainian sovereignty and LGBT equality, however LGBT topics were not raised.

‘For every homophobe’ Powerful Speech from Penny Wong – Out Lesbian Senator from Australia

Penny Wong is an out lesbian senator in Australia and spoke about homophobia this week.

“For every homophobe, there are hundreds of thoughtful, tolerant, decent and ethical people,”

Senator Penny Wong

Reacting to Ian Thorpe’s coming out interview and footy commentator Brian Taylor’s ‘big poofter’ remark at the weekend, Wong said homophobia shouldn’t be laughed off, as it obviously affects the lives of so many LGBTI Australians.

“It’s no joke to be caught in the crossfire of prejudice, and it’s no joke to live with the fear of being rejected, or vilified, or persecuted because of who you are… That fact is, we still hear homophobic comments and slurs bandied around as if they’re acceptable, harmless, just a bit of a laugh. Well it isn’t a laugh to a young person growing up, working out who they are, surrounded by an atmosphere of hostility. They can feel alone, isolated from their peers, isolated from their community and sometimes even their family.”

Senator Penny Wong

Recent research into students in Australian schools, and sporting culture survey results revealed today show that homophobia is still a major issue with most people – gay and straight – on the receiving end of anti-gay slurs.

Tori Amos Makes a Stand in Moscow Gig by Performing Lesbian Anthem

Tori Amos performed a lesbian anthem in a Moscow concert as part of her recent world tour. The singer told News.com.au she was intentionally making a point by performing ‘Not Gonna Get Us’ by t.A.T.u, who are famous for their lesbian image.

“The Russian audiences suggested it and I thought OK, that’s a really good idea. Little did I know, Putin was the next person to take that stage. He was going to be giving a speech there the next morning. His security showed up at the end of my show to start scoping the place, not knowing I’d just sung a lesbian anthem on stage…

You can’t not do those songs without knowing what it can mean… I mean I’m 50, I’m not completely naive! You can’t be coy about it. To play a t.A.T.u. song, a lesbian anthem, in Moscow — you’ve gotta grab it with both hands, because if you don’t, it’s not going to work. [In Russia] you’re kind of safe, but even then you have intimidating security everywhere.

My tour manager, who’s a lesbian, made them stand down because they were very threatening. But the Moscow show was great; we had people from Russia there, and people from Kiev, and to see them joined in unity, above and beyond government, was inspiring to see. I don’t sing for government, I sing for the people.”

Tori Amos

Dak’Art – A Vechilce for African Visual Arts

Dakar Biennale of Contemporary Art or Dak’Art is scene as one of the most significant vehicles for African and diaspora visual arts. This year, the event attracted curators, collectors and critics from around the globe to engage with artists who represent Africa’s growing clout in the international art world.

The official Dak’Art programme comprised five exhibits featuring both established and emerging artists. The event included Julie Mehretu, Fabrice Monteiro, Abdoulaye Konaté, Mame-Diarra Niang, Soly Cisse and Wangechi Mutu.

The exhibition also included a video by French-Algerian artist Kader Attia in which transgender people in Algeria and India spoke about their lives. ‘Precarious Imaging: Visibility and Media Surrounding African Queerness’ opened at Dakar’s Raw Material Company, however after one day the building was attacked and vandalised. The government shut down the exhibition and ordered the organisers of the biennale not to show any other LGBTI themed material.

Senegal is well-known for its peaceful and moderated Islam. Such an aggressive attack is absolutely unexpected, as is the government’s decision to shut down all the exhibitions in the biennial that deal with homosexuality. It is highly concerning that a country that has always been protected from fundamentalism is now opening the door through an official path.”

Kader Attia

The biennale was originally established in 1989, and took its inspiration from Senegal’s first president Léopold Sédar Senghor who established the World Festival of Black Arts in 1966. The poet politician wanted to celebrate post independence Africa and to promote Negritude, his doctrine seeking to elevate the shared achievements of black people worldwide. The festival assembled voices from 45 countries including Duke Ellington, Wole Soyinka, Nelson Mandela and Josephine Baker. Senegal, a peaceful country steeped in a rich history of arts, music and culture, remains the ideal springboard for promoting Africa’s creative output beyond her borders.

“Senegal has been at the crossroad of various civilisations for centuries, thus our people have an ability to navigate between different contexts.”

Omar Victor Diop,

Jackie Nickerson (featured in www.anothermag.com) captured some of the moments from the event in this series of stunning photos.
US-born, UK-based Nickerson has been photographying Sub Saharan Africa – has preoccupations with agricultural laborours and their relation to the environment.

Dakar has such a positive energy and is teaming with talent. I was particularly struck by the prevalence of street art.”

Jackie Nickerson

Oppression of Gays Is ‘New Apartheid’ – Archbishop Desmond Tutu Voices Concern

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who fought racial discrimination in South Africa, says the oppression of gay people around the world is the “new Apartheid.”

The globally respected social rights activist, and retired Anglican bishop, rose to worldwide fame during the 1980s as an opponent of apartheid. Tutu’s admirers see him as a man who since the demise of apartheid has been active in the defence of human rights and uses his high profile to campaign for the oppressed. He has campaigned to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, poverty, racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia.

Pink Dot Pride in Singapore’s Draws 26,000 People – #pinkdotsg

Despite prominent protests from religious groups, Singapore’s sixth annual Pink Dot festival drew record crowds today.

This year Pink Dot fell on the eve of Ramadan, and as a result both Christian and Muslim groups in Singapore joined forces to protest against the rally, in opposition to the “normalisation of LGBT” and “public promotion of homosexuality”. As a result, the organisers of the festival deployed security personnel for the first time, to protect participants from any clashes with opposition groups.

Despite the strong opposition, the crowd of 26,000 is the largest ever at the event.

“It is very heartening to see the dot growing year on year. We believe that this sends a strong message of love and acceptance, affirming that Singapore is a home for one and all, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity. We are, at the end of the day, one big national Family, and it is especially humbling this year, to see the sheer support we have received from Singaporeans from all walks of life. Pink Dot remains committed to championing for an all-inclusive Singapore. Even as we remain mindful of opposition from certain quarters, we are confident that this Little Red Dot we call home is large enough for us all to co-exist peacefully, respectfully and with dignity.”

Paerin Choa, Spokesperson for Pink Dot Sg

Section 377A of the Singaporean Penal Code forbids male same-sex acts, although female same-sex sexual activity was legalised in 2007. Although the law is sporadically enforced, a constitutional challenge against it was dismissed by courts last year.

image source: getty Images

Taking the Rap for Homophobia

For many years it seemed hip hop was dominated by macho, gay-hating artists. There was no place for alternative sexual identities. Thanks to a more diverse range of artists working in the genre, that seems to be changing now.

Macklemore, Angel Haze, SIYA and Frank Ocean are part of the new generation of LGBT rappers whose lyrics deal explicitly with gay and lesbian themes. San Francisco-based rapper MichaTron is openly lesbian and has this to say about her oeuvre:

‘I love women and nothing’s gonna change that. I hid it for years until one day I said “F*** it”. Everyone else just had to deal with it.’


Her 2013 video for her track “Bumper” was filmed on location at the Oakland Pride Festival and the San Francisco Dyke March. The video represents LGBTs as passionate, fun-loving and absolutely proud of who they are. Not your typical hip-hop video!

But is this new sub-genre of pink hip-hop a little too much for the fans? Absolutely not says MicahTron, who has just turned 26 years old.

‘A lot of people have said that they love the fact that it was shot at Pride.’


‘Most of these [new LGBT hip-hop artists] are styled, photographed or even working with people who are queer,” she adds. ‘Most of the brilliant eyes behind the scenes in the industry belong to gay people. It’s just taken time for people to deal with it when it’s in their face.’

MicahTron hopes to become a role model for other young lesbians hoping to break into the world of rap. She’d also like to ‘go mainstream and win Grammys’, and she might just do it given the success she’s enjoyed so far. It already seems that her song “Bumper” is a kind of anthem for this new generation of young African-Americans who don’t see any kind of contradiction between being LGBT and loving hip-hop.

Thousands Party at Israel’s Gay Parade – #LGBTPrideMonth

Tel Aviv is one of the few places in the Middle East where gays are free to walk hand-in-hand and kiss in public. However on Friday Tel Aviv was filled with tens of thousands of LGBT people holding hands, as they took part in the city’s annual gay pride parade, the largest event of its kind in the Middle East.

Tel Aviv has emerged as one of the world’s most gay-friendly travel destinations in recent years. The city’s openness to LGBTs stands in contrast to conservative Jerusalem, just a short drive away.

In Israel is becoming more liberal, the LGBT community can now serve openly in military and parliament. However, leaders of the gay community say Israel still has far to go in promoting equality. There is still no gay marriage in Israel, primarily because there is no civil marriage of any kind. All Jewish weddings must be conducted through the Jewish rabbinate, which considers homosexuality a sin and a violation of Jewish law. But the state recognises same-sex couples who marry abroad.

Across the rest of the Middle East, gay and lesbian relationships are mostly taboo, with same-sex relations being punishable by death in Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen.



Veteran Lesbian Couple to Demand Married Recognition

Nancy Robrahn and Jennie Rosenkranz have been together for almost 30 years and are both aged over 65. This weekend they will travel from their home state, South Dakota, in order to get married in Minnesota, a state where same-sex marriage is permitted. They will then return to SD and demand that the government recognise their union.

According to the law firm hired by the couple, Robrahn, 68, and Rosenkranz, 72, will be married at Minneapolis’ Community of Christ Church by the city mayor. Their four children and six grandchildren will be present at the ceremony.

When they go back to South Dakota, the couple will begin litigation against the state government to repeal 2006 legislation banning same-sex marriage.

‘We are approaching the time when end of life decisions and plans need to be made,’ said Robrahn. ‘There are many federal protections that will become available to us through this Minnesota marriage. We hope to see the day when couples like us don’t have to travel out of South Dakota to marry.’

Robrahn and Rosenkranz are not the only gay couple pursuing a civil rights suit against the state of South Dakota. Their plaintiffs in this case are two other same-sex couples. There is hope amongst the LGBT community in the state that their legal action will lead to a broader amendment to the constitution of the state that will, once and for all, legalise and normalise same-sex marriage.

If such a law is passed, Montana, Alaska and North Dakota will be the only states in the Union not to either recognise same-sex marriages or to have an equality suit pending. According to the advocacy group Freedom to Marry, right across the USA there are 65 cases seeking marriage equality in over 30 states and territories.

Jamaican Politician Calls for Legality of Homosexuality

The leader of the Jamaican opposition, Andrew Holness, has asked Prime Minister Portia Simpson to hold a referendum in 2015 on the legality of homosexuality. According to Holness, there are “uncertainties” in the public’s mind about the controversial Buggery Act that carries a maximum penalty of ten years’ hard labour for miscreants.

Mr Holness said, ‘Prime Minister, there is great uncertainty in the LGBT community and amongst ordinary Jamaicans alike about your promise to review the Buggery Act. The issue is very sensitive, of course, I am sure you will agree that more Jamaicans, in general, and interest groups are more open to discussion on the matter. A way to finally bring some certainty to the matter would be to put it to the people.’

Mr Holness would also like the referendum to focus on a number of other pressing issues: the liberalisation of Jamaica’s marijuana laws, the Caribbean Court of Justice’s role as the final appeal court and whether or not the Queen of England should remain as Jamaica’s Head of State. ‘I am sure Jamaica could have our own queen, if we placed this on the referendum,’ Mr Holness said.

The referendum would have the advantage of being cost-effective, so Mr Holness’s supporters argue, and would prove that Jamaica is a truly democratic nation that listens to its populace at the grass roots level.

“Ganja liberalisation” has been a hot topic for decades in Jamaica. There is no consensus between the mainstream political parties and a growing lobby has been campaigning for the right of the Jamaican people to decide on this issue for themselves.